All About the Singers | Norman Provizer's Jazz Notes

Jan 12, 2018

This week it’s all about singers as both Tierney Sutton and Diane Schuur come to town.  First up is the LA-based and Wisconsin-born Sutton who released her first album in 1998. Sutton is a talented vocalist who simply bills herself as part of the Tierney Sutton Band along with pianist Christian Jacob, drummer Ray Brinker and bassists Kevin Axt and Trey Henry. This is a band that as been together, in large part, for more than two decades and it is on stage at the Newman Center, 2344 E. Iliff, on the University of Denver campus on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (303-871-7720).

The Sutton band’s current CD is the Grammy-nominated The Sting Variations that should be on prominent display on Thursday with the singer offering her take on Sting’s music. The Newman Center has a strong jazz lineup as part of its 2017-2018 season and this is certainly proof. Tierney is clearly one of the top female vocalists around and I’d say that even if she hadn’t attended Boston University and Wesleyan (Governor Hickenlooper’s alma mater) emerging with a degree in Russian Language and Literature. Of course, she also put in some time at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Additionally, Sutton collaborated with Clint Eastwood on the music for the film Sully.

While Sutton starts the week in music, Schuur wraps it with sets at Dazzle, 1512 Curtis, on Tuesday and Wednesday at 6 and 8:30 p.m. (303-839-5100). Blind since birth, Schuur sang “Amazing Grace” at the 1979 Monterey Jazz Festival, capturing the attention of Stan Getz who would later feature her on a televised concert from the White House. That in turn captured the attention of GRP Records and her first GRP release came out in 1985. She would continue recording for GRP through 1997, capturing Grammy Awards in 1986 (for Timeless) and 1987 (for Diane Schuur with the Count Basie Orchestra).

Schuur, whose longstanding nickname is “Deedles,” is a potent singer with a (dare I say it) “schuur fire” commitment to jazz while also venturing into other musical fields. Her 2014 disc I Remember is a love note to Stan (Getz) and Frank (Sinatra).

Speaking of GRP Records, saxophonist/flautist Nelson Rangell spent many years on that label (1989-1997) recording seven discs as well as appearing on releases by the GRP Big Band. After spending time at the New England Conservatory of Music, the Denver-born Rangell hit New York and covered the musical waterfront, including time with the Gil Evans Orchestra. Rangell is a strong player on all his horns and can combine popular appeal with serious chops. His quartet is at Dazzle at 6 and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Dazzle lineup also includes the blues sounds of Erica Brown on Thursday at 6 and 8:30 p.m.; string and brass sextets from the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday at 7 p.m.; and a Jazz/Latin Fusion sextet led by percussionist Bill Hill (with players such as Chuck Schneider and Neil Haverstick) on Sunday at 6 p.m. And remember that you can find great live music on just about every night of the week at Nocturne and La Cour Art Bar in Denver and Caffe Solé in Boulder.

Over at KUVO (89.3 FM), the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra led by Art Bouton delivers live music over the air from the station’s performance arts studio on Monday from 6 to 7 p.m. Also, the classic Broadway musical The King and I wraps up its visit at the Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Sunday. The Lincoln Center Theater revival has garnered numerous awards and, despite its sometimes questionable cultural context, it reminds us of how much American musicals helped create the great American songbook.

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Diane Schuur